Why Not Us? Why Not Now?


By Charles Cullen

A thought has been growing in my mind since roughly 1990, when I was pressed into service as a 9 year old canvasser for my first Democratic candidate. At some point during the stiflingly hot march from house to house I asked my fellow canvasser, and dad, a question having something to do with Georgia’s role in national Democratic politics (our race was local). His answer could best be summed up with the pragmatist’s slogan “act locally, dream nationally.” We can affect real change in Atlanta and maybe even make a few dents in the juggernaut that is the Georgia Republican party, or at very least make it a bit harder for them to deliver the state to people like Bush I, Bob Dole, and Bush Lite.

I have tempered my expectations for Georgia in national races by reminding myself “one must always remember that Atlanta is surrounded on all sides by Georgia.” But I’ve begun to wonder if recent demographic trends and political changes mean I’m throwing Georgia under the bus. Others, both at Blogging While Blue and elsewhere, have pointed to positive poll-shifts and the changing face of the average Georgian as possible harbingers of Democratic success. I would like to add one key demographic to the growing list of factors that may allow us to watch Georgia turn blue on CNN’s election night Holodeck.

The group I’m talking about is relatively new and growing fast. It’s somewhat socially liberal but considers itself “fiscally conservative.” It defies race (sort of), gender, age, and definitely economic status. It is a group that if captured by the Democratic party could turn Georgia as unflinchingly Blue as it has been Red. I’m talking of course about conservatives who no longer recognize their own party.

These newly exiled Republicans have been essential to every national Republican success. And there are more of them with every passing Republican super-gaffe. Were even a fraction to find refuge in the Democratic party the results would catastrophic for the GOP.

We tend to forget about these Republicans as, it appears, does the GOP, because newsreel, tri-cornered hat wearing Republicans are very, very loud and very, very noticeable. And because the truism, “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line” is still largely accurate. But make a Republican unhappy enough and they will begin eying bluer pastures. Perhaps the best thing about this bloc is that we don’t need to change to attract it, we need only engage it.

The GOP has done all the hard work for us by constricting their political tent with constant scandal and openly grotesque views on immigration, women, war, and the world in general. They have mutilated their own image so thoroughly that they’ve become unrecognizable to many of their constituents, and forgotten their governing responsibilities so completely that any time not spent attacking the President is spent bickering with each other. No time is spent trying to get anything substantive done.

In fact, the air around the republican brand is so poisonous that even Bob Dole feels left out, correctly telling ABC news’ Chris Wallace that politicians like Reagan—the Republican’s golden calf–would find themselves unwelcome in today’s obstructionist Republican party. “Reagan wouldn’t have made it,” Dole recently moped, adding “certainly, Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas.” He goes on to say that his team “might have made it, but I doubt it.” When Bob Dole feels alienated by the failure of his party to be sane or reasonable, you can bet that truly moderate voters feel his discomfort tenfold.

In the mountain of evidence, both empirical and anecdotal, that this really is an important group of voters to be courted as we turn Georgia blue, one conversation stands out for me. It perfectly crystallizes the feeling I’ve heard expressed by many who consider themselves Independents or Republicans without a true political home. The conversation was with a friend who is a self described fiscal conservative, and who respects “the value of smaller government.” “I’m not a Democrat,” my friend recently assured me, “but I can’t vote for a Republican.” And that’s a perfect starting point.

We don’t need these people to march in parades or make DNC plans. We just need them to act on their disappointment with Republican politics by voting for an alternative, or by simply refusing to vote for the Todd Akins, Steve Kings, and George Bushes of the world. They, in turn, don’t need us to offer them some kind of Republican Lite option to attract their support; they only need us to be reasonable and to avoid the lunatic behavior that has driven them away from the Republican camp.

That’s a pretty low bar, and clearing it could have a truly profound effect on Georgia politics for years to come.

Charles Cullen is a Blogging While Blue contributer and reguraly posts on ProgressivePopulist.blogspot.com


  1. You say some things about the Republican Party which on the surface make sense, but offer no viable alternatives.

    The Republican Party in Georgia moves more towards social conservatism and further away from fiscal conservatism. This is true.

    Those of us who identify as Libertarian, which is who you are really speaking about, who don’t care if gays marry, who don’t care if pot is legalized, who may have an opinion either way about abortion but who mostly want the government to stay out of the decision, well, we also tend to be, as you say, fiscally conservative.

    And you Democrats offer us absolutely no alternatives, especially nationally. I’ve voted for Joe Lieberman. And if you put up another Presidential candidate who is like Joe Lieberman, say, someone like Corey Booker, depending on who he is running against, would likely vote for him, too.

    But so many Democrats in this state, and nationally, continually want to grow government, punish those who are successful (those EVIL rich, right?), and interfere with business until the point of no return.

    And then you look at our current President, whose Administration is actually enacting all of the anti-Constitutional attacks you spent 8 years accusing W of doing: spying on the AP and journalists, charging journalists with security leaks for doing their job, using the IRS to attack and cripple political enemies, using the DOJ to attack the very small few in the media who don’t toe the Admin’s line and love the President with all their hearts, etc, etc.

    We’re supposed to vote for that?

    ObamaCare, perhaps the biggest lie and con job in Presidential history, is going to ruin lives. Look at the numbers coming out of California. This law and tax (because it is a tax, it is the only legal way to consider it Constitutional) will ruin people’s lives. The same people O swears he wants to help.

    W, a social conservative (i.e., not a fiscal conservative) and O have increased the size of our bureaucracy to dizzying heights, and now O is using that government largesse to trample over the 1st Amendment (amongst other Amendments).

    He, and other Democrats on the local and national levels, are dividing the nation along economic lines to create a class of people dependent on that same government, much like the Greeks did, so those people will always vote for those who promise to either keep those government checks rolling in or increase them. And that is an evil that cannot be allowed. Creating this class of people dependent on the government for survival is not tantamount to slavery… it IS slavery.

    You want us to vote for THAT?

    BTW… how did that work out for the Greeks?

    I believe a man should be able to marry another man. I will fight for what I see as a universally HUMAN right.

    But there are some things me, and other Libertarians and Independents cannot ignore from the Democratic Party even though we may agree on a great many social issues.

    It is the fiscal issues, and the demand for increased government intrusion (and taking away of individual freedoms) into people’s lives that keep people like me from voting for almost any Democrat on the ticket. Those who are moderate, like a Joe Lieberman, Bill Clinton, or Corey Booker, are few and far between.

    I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I once took an oath to defend and protect the Constitution. When I look out into the country, it seems to me, Democrats are the ones who tend to ignore and hate this document I love. When I read the news, I SEE the current Administration defiling the Constitution, and it makes me angrier than I maybe ever have been.

    Good luck getting those of us Libertarians and Independent who loathe big government dependence, intrusion, and thuggery, to start voting for more Democrats.

    You’re going to need it.

  2. NotATeaPartier says:

    Note: There are enough youthful Tea Partiers masquerading as “libertarians” in Georgia. Its not worth chasing them. Let them drown in a sea of “legitimate rape” and Rand Paul’s bigoted statements. The Democrat Party is better off without such people.

    • And this is why you fail.

      You seek to marginalize me and what I have to say, because I don’t agree with you, but putting (in your mind) a pejorative label on me, thereby easily dismissing me.

      I am exactly what I say I am. I have no ideology to speak of, other than love of the Constitution. I’ve voted for Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents… I vote based on conscience, and not the ridiculous notion of a “party line.”

      It just so happens that I most easily identify as a Libertarian, although I most definitely don’t agree with them on everything. But it’s nice, that unlike Dems and Reps, Libertarians are a little more easy going when it comes to that sort of thing.

      But go ahead… dismiss my worries, my fears, and my vision of a country that should abide by it’s own laws as constructed by the Constitution.

      Because we know this Administration, and the last Administration, and the particularly blind sycophants who continue to apologize for them, don’t and didn’t really care for that, don’t we?

  3. Mr Cullen neatly frames observations and concepts that many of us share. Our greatest strength as Democrats is the truly better American governing value of our mainstream policy elements over those of the current Republican platform. We should be specifically explaining and leveraging THAT to convince voters to look at and come our way, rather than continuing to primarily invest in technical political gamesmanship or waiting for predicted advantageous demographic shifts.

    I encourage Georgia Democrats to link Charles’ recommendations about change to the moment we have at hand in the turning over of our DPG Chairmanship. Whether it is about looking for new leadership that will incorporate Mr Cullen’s ideas into serious plans to revitalize the state Party, or any other reasonable but at least new and energetic approach, we need a notable moment around which to pivot out of our decline. I urge all fellow rank-and-file Democrats to support our Executive and State Committee members in making the special Chair election that moment. Let’s look for and install leadership that is not only dedicated to the idea of and wish for our our resurrection, but with effective plans and skills to make that happen.